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NATO airstrike hits near Gaddafi complex

world Updated: Jun 15, 2011 08:56 IST

AP
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A NATO airstrike hit an area near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's compound in the capital again on Tuesday, as military leaders voiced concerns about sustaining the operations if the alliance mission drags on.

A column of gray smoke could be seen rising from the area around Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound shortly before dawn today. The concussion from the blast was felt at a hotel where journalists stay in the capital.

It was not clear what was targeted, and Libyan officials didn't immediately comment.

East of the capital, alliance aircraft have begun dropping leaflets warning government troops to abandon their posts outside Zlitan, which lies just west of the rebel-held port city of Misrata.

Rebel forces have been advancing along the Mediterranean coast toward Zlitan, but say they have been instructed by NATO to withdraw ahead of expected bombing runs to old front lines in Dafniya.

The 3-by-5 inch leaflets intended for forces loyal to Gadhafi carry the NATO symbol and a picture of an Apache attack helicopter and burning tanks on one side. Green Arabic writing warns: "There's no place to hide. It's not too late to stop fighting. If you continue to threaten civilians, you will face destruction." The message on the reverse urges soldiers to "stop and stay away from fighting now."

An Associated Press reporter near the front line said NATO fighter jets were be heard overhead.

If the rebels take Zlitan, they would be within 135 kilometers of the eastern outskirts of Tripoli. A rebel official said opposition leaders in Zlitan have been meeting with their counterparts in Misrata, but he acknowledged they face challenges in advancing on the city.